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Steve Thompson MBE (formerly Steve Walters; born 15 July 1978 in Hemel Hempsteadmarker) is a rugby union player who plays at hooker for CA Brive. He plays for England, and played for the British Lions. He is a former British Roller blading champion and came second in the European championship at age 13.

Northampton career

Thompson, then known as Steve Walter, started playing rugby at 15 at the Northampton School for Boysmarker and went on to play for Northampton Old Scouts RFC alongside Ben Cohen in a very successful youth team. He also trained with the youth section of Saints and, at 18, was selected for the apprentice scheme at the club's academy as a back row forward. Former Saints coach Ian McGeechan and coaches at Northampton Old Scouts RFC persuaded him to convert to being a hooker. Despite competing against the Argentinian Federico Méndez in the 1999-2000 season for his club place, he still managed to force his way into the England A squad. Thompson continued to develop as a player and became co-captain of Northampton Saints.

International career

Thompson made his debut for England against his former mentor’s side Scotland and the men in white came out on top. He was selected for England’s summer tour to North America in 2001, where he did well. He scored his maiden test try against Italy in 2003 and made a significant contribution to England's southern hemisphere tour in June 2003, playing in both tests against New Zealand and Australia.

He was a member of the 2003 England team that won the Rugby World Cup. He played a part in all but one of England’s World Cup performances in Australia in 2003 and scored his second test try in England’s opening World Cup match against Georgia in Perth.

Thompson continued as an England regular in the Autumn games of 2004. He was selected for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. On the tour he seemed to have regained some of his form after a poor 2005 Six Nations.

His reliable form for both club and country meant that he continued as the first choice hooker for England. His solid performances in both the autumn and Six Nations tests of the 2005-2006 season demonstrated his international consistency.

On May 19 Martin Johnson gave Thompson a surprise call up for the England summer games against The Barbarians and Argentina

Retirement and return

On 15 April 2007 Thompson announced his immediate retirement from rugby due to a career ending neck injury that he had suffered during the closing Heineken Cup pool match with Biarritz at Franklins Gardens in January 2007.

For the season 2007/2008 he signed for CA Brive Correze Limousin as a "recruitment and technique adviser". But on the 22nd October 2007 Steve announced he will be returning to the game after consulting medical staff. He first played (and won) with Brivemarker on November 9 2007 in the European Challenge Cup against Connacht and is expected to play in the French Championship Top 14 as additional hooker in CA Brive CL.

Steve was recalled to the England squad for the 2009 autumn internationals along with former 2003 world cup winner Jonny Wilkinson and Lewis Moody.

Playing style

Thompson is regarded by some as England's finest ever hooker, and was certainly England’s biggest: at 6'3" and 18 stone he was larger than the average hooker but he was also very fast and an excellent ball carrier. He was, however, perceived to be weak at throwing the ball in at line-outs.

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